2014 Blog Highlights: Winter

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on CigarInspector.com in 2014. Enjoy.

1985 Cuban Davidoff No. 1 Review

Davidoff No. 1 (Cuban)

Matthew B. published a review of an extremely rare cigar - a Davidoff No. 1 produced in Cuba in 1985. Discontinued over 20 years ago, these cigars are a typical special occasion smoke.

Cigar Flavors Wheel: printable version

Cigar Flavors Wheel poster

We created a printable Cigar Flavors Wheel, following our article about cigar flavors. That's our favorite tool to pinpoint those flavors you're experiencing in a cigar.

Tobacco plant primings and non-Cuban reviews

Tobacco primings guide

We also learned everything about tobacco plant primings, traveled to Athens (Greece), and sampled some nice Non-Cuban cigars like the Illusione 888 "Necessary & Sufficient" and Nat Sherman Timeless Collection.

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015!

It’s hard to believe it’s 2015! Some years just fly by, and 2014 was definitely one of them over here at Cigar Inspector. But it’s been a good year. There’ve been a lot of exciting developments in the cigar world, and some great new stogies released by our favourite brands. A lot of brands have also taken this year to totally redesign their branding. The cigar industry is looking toward the future, and so are we.

What happened in 2014? Here’s a brief summary of the year in review:

Legal stuff:

It seems like every year some silly laws get passed and some more misinformation spreads about the dangers of secondhand smoke (check out this cartoon). Boston banned park smoking this January. Nebraska also banned smoking in cigar lounges. The ban was temporarily lifted, only to be slapped back down in November when the state Supreme Court decided to uphold it. The FDA also announced its intent to move in on tobacco. On the bright side, they’re hearing the voices of cigar enthusiasts and activists, and have already conceded they may have to make an exception for the premium cigar industry. Going into 2015, this battle is going to come to a head, so keep raising your voices in support of premium cigars!

Cigar industry news:

  • A lot of brands did huge redesigns this year, including Villiger Cigars and Vegueros
  • Drew Estate expanded into Nicaragua. Cohiba also expanded into Nicaragua for the first time ever this year.
  • José Blanco of La Aurora got back into cigar making and started up a company of his own, Las Cumbres Tabaco.
  • Nat Sherman brought back the classic Epoca brand from the 1920s and 30s.
  • Davidoff brought back its Winston Churchill line.
  • We’ve seen some great new releases from brands like Alec Bradley, AVO (they are planning a redesign for 2015, by the way), E.P. Carrillo, Illusione, La Flor Dominicana, La Aurora, My Father, and more. Just check this list of 2014 releases, isn't it impressive?

So even though this year we’ve seen the usual struggles with regulatory issues, the cigar industry is booming. There is a lot to be optimistic about. As the year wraps up, this is also a time to reflect on the industry as a whole and what makes it strong. Are we moving into the future? Yes, but part of what makes the cigar industry so profoundly special is the way that it holds true to its traditions. The further we venture into the 21st century, the more we are seeing values like craftsmanship and individuality overturned by practices like automation and mass production. The cigar industry remains a beacon of quality and individualism in a world that’s increasingly setting aside both. And I think that is why this is such a wonderful community to be a part of. Community is another value that’s more important than ever going into 2015.

So thank you for being a part of our community here on Cigar Inspector. I appreciate every comment, every email, every visit. I love knowing that this site is making a difference. Happy New Year to all, and may 2015 bring you every success!

The Best Cigar Spots in St. Louis

Best Cigar Spots in St Louis

Today we're bringing you a guest blog post from Nikki Glenn, a cigar aficionada and a violinist entertainer for private, corporate and special events worldwide. She loves learning about and smoking cigars as much as possible.

While St. Louis, Missouri may be best known for the Gateway Arch, the World’s Fair, or for being home to Anheuser-Busch, it also has a thriving community of cigar lovers and some very unique spots to enjoy a good smoke. St. Louis has some of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods, from the bohemian to the upscale, and these cigar spots can be found within them. It is especially challenging to find places to relax and enjoy a smoke in light of the smoking bans in many states, so I’m delighted to share with you the best cigar spots in St. Louis and why I love them all.

Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company and Lounge

Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company and Lounge

The Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company and Lounge is located on Washington Avenue, a street that offers up hip nightclubs, coffee houses, and unique retail establishments along with upscale dining and wine bars. I would describe Stanley’s as “Cheers” with cigars – they really do know your name once you start going there. The staff is both friendly and knowledgeable, and always willing to chat about their favorite smokes or offer up suggestions if you don’t want your usual.

There’s a walk-in humidor for your perusal and they have top shelf liquors to enjoy at the bar or in their couch seating. You also won’t miss a second of the game as there are multiple TV’s throughout the establishment. They have live music weekly, and also host cigar events throughout the year. What I love the most about Stanley is that it is very unpretentious and relaxed. It is a great place to go hang out and unwind with a glass of your favorite libation. Please note I didn’t say it was quiet. Washington Avenue is a prime party spot in downtown St. Louis, so it does get fairly crowded on the weekends and they can be boisterous. However, if you’re looking for an unfussy place where you can have a nice drink and a smoke, Stanley’s can’t be beat.

Website: http://www.stanleycigarco.com/
(Hours 3 pm – 1 am, closed Sundays)

Durango Cigar Lounge at Brennan’s

Zino Platinum Lounge at Brennan's

If you’re looking for something a little more... highbrow, I offer for your consideration Durango Cigar Lounge. It is located in the Central West End, home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, and gated streets with some of the loveliest old mansions in the city. On the upper floor of Brennan’s, a wine, food, and tobacco establishment, it’s impossible not to feel special when the door to the club requires a keycode to enter. The lounge is cozy and dim, but the appeal here is twofold: the company that you keep, and the music that you’ll hear. Music is vinyl (remember records?) only, spun by the bartender/doorkeeper/DJ. He spins quite the mix, from early Prince to Norah Jones and everything in between. You can bring your own smokes, or they do offer cigars for sale – their special trademark is the Durango Pipe Tobacco Cigar. Please note that this is a members’ only club, but day passes can be purchased during the week by calling in advance. The membership is a friendly lot, and you’ll most likely get quite a bit of encouragement to join up if you go more than a few times. Brennan’s has more of the “club” feel to it since it is very small and intimate – it really is a neat place to meet interesting people and have great conversations.

Website: http://cometobrennans.net/Durango-Cigar-Lounge.html
(Hours Mon-Sat 3 pm-1.30 am, Sun 5 pm – midnight)

Hill Cigar Company

Hill Cigar Company

“The Hill” is one St. Louis’ oldest (and historically Italian-American) neighborhoods. You will find some of the best Italian food in the world within this neighborhood, but it is also home to the Hill Cigar Company. They have a lovely walk-in humidor featuring a wide selection of cigars, and also have a small lounge at the back of the property with couches and television. The owner is excellent at picking new smokes if you tell him what you’re currently smoking. They have over 800 different cigars available, including the Opus X line, as well as My Father, Zino Scepter series, and Padron Anniversary cigars; please note my understanding is that if you wish to smoke in the lounge, you should smoke what you’ve purchased there. It is a very low-frills place, but their genuine warmth and hospitality make it feel like going to a very good friend’s house to enjoy a smoke. However, their hours are the shortest of any other lounge in St. Louis, so you will want to come here before you enjoy a fantastic Italian dinner in the neighborhood.

Website: http://www.hillcigarco.com/
(Hours Mon-Fri 10 am – 7 pm, Sat 10 am – 6 pm, Sun 12 noon – 4 pm)

St. Louis Cigars (West County) – opening soon

I’m mentioning STL Cigars because it will be reopening soon – it holds a special place in my heart as it was my regular go-to spot until a fire destroyed the building a few months ago. It will have a walk-in humidor, lounge seating, patio seating, and a bar once the reconstruction is completed. The owner is one of the friendliest gentlemen I’ve ever met, and his love and appreciation for cigars is evident. This is a place to come at the end of the day, to have a drink, and shoot the breeze. The regulars are down-to-earth and happy to strike up a conversation. I’m looking forward to its reopening.

“From Seeds to Cigars” : winners

From Seeds to Cigars by William Miller

Last week we reviewed a cigar book called From Seeds to Cigars by William R. Miller.

We've had three copies to give away to our readers, and the winners are: Walt, Randall and Vic Gonzalez ! Please get in touch to claim your prize. Many thanks to William for making this possible!

From Seeds to Cigars is available from Amazon at $12.99.

Another La Casa del Habano in Belgium – LCDH Hasselt

La Casa del Habano Hasselt

In November 2014, Belgian cigar aficionados got some exciting news - another La Casa del Habano boutique was opened, now in Hasselt. This country now boasts 5 'casas' - the other four can be found in Knokke, Gent, Antwerp and Brussels. You might already have heard about the Knokke and Gent boutique, managed by Dominique Gyselinck and Frédéric Dechamps. The same team is behind the Hasselt shop, so if you're passing by don't forget to have a look (Google Maps >) at their range of fresh Habanos in the biggest walk-in humidor of Benelux.

Impressive Walk-in Humidor

Montecristo Colección Habanos 2005

Montecristo Colección Habanos 2005

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Format : Maravillas No. 1 (Double Robusto)
Size : 7-1/8" (182 mm) x 55
500 “books” of 20 produced in 2005
Box Date : FIM – September 2005; Box #150 of 500
Price : Market Value roughly $1,600/book or $80/cigar
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars...

The Montecristo Colección Habanos 2005 commemorated the 70th anniversary of the brand. It is the fifth “volume” of the Habanos Collection Series which began in 2001. The Colección releases are notable for both quality and the unique presentation (see photographs).

Montecristo Colleccion, a fireplace and gin martini

I meant to smoke and review this in the summer, but just never got to it. I purchased this “book” at initial release and have smoked a few. I recall enjoying these, but not being blown away. Now that we are into its 9th year, I thought it was a good time to see how they are developing. Reviewing this on a cold, rainy night while sitting next to an aromatic fire, paired with a very dry, gin martini (my preferred libation with Montecristos and Cohibas).

Read the full review of Montecristo Colección Habanos 2005...

Book Review and Giveaway: From Seeds to Cigars

From Seeds to Cigars by William Miller

Recently I was sent a free copy of a new picture book called From Seeds to Cigars by William R. Miller. If you’re interested in learning how tobacco is grown and processed and manufactured into cigars, this is a great pictorial step-by-step which goes into cigar manufacturing in-depth.

Who is William R. Miller? He’s a cigar enthusiast who has been smoking since the 70s. In 2006, he began working at Famous Smoke Shop as a graphic designer. This gave him a lot of inside insights into the industry, and of course plenty of time to smoke cigars. During his time at Famous, he had the chance to take a trip to Estili, Nicaragua, and Danli, Honduras, where cigars are made. While he was on his trip, William realized he wanted to write a book, and started snapping pictures and researching.

What’s the book like? Available from Amazon at $12.99, it’s short (only around 25 pages), which may be a detractor at the price point, but it still makes for a nice coffee table book with the bright, colorful pictures and simple explanations (it’d also be a great choice for a table at a cigar lounge). From Seeds to Cigars does a wonderful job illustrating the manufacturing process so that you can easily understand how certain processes (like curing or fermenting) affect the final product. It’d make a great gift, especially for a cigar newbie who wants to glean a better understanding of how cigars are made. The design of the book is very nice, and reflects an appreciation for craftsmanship.

Courtesy of William, we’re giving away three copies of From Seeds to Cigars to our readers! To enter into the drawing, just post a comment below.

Contest open internationally. We'll announce the winners in one week.

Amazon Contest Winner


The winner of the $32 Amazon gift certificate is fil. Congrats! Please get in touch to claim your prize.

Long ashes everyone - and stay tuned for more contests in future!

PS If you would like to support CigarInspector.com, feel free to make your Amazon purchases through this link. Thank you!

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